Ebola and other viruses

Ebola and other viruses

The Ebola Scare: That shouldn’t be all we are worried about

Dannette Young Heeth, CEH, IP, NR-Paramedic | Varsity Facility Services/Southwest Division | Regional Business Development

Stop-Ebola-VirusI live in two worlds; janitorial maintenance with emphasis on infection control and as a trauma medic on the weekends in a very busy emergency department (ED) at a Texas hospital. As I walked through the ER bay doors on a recent Saturday, I saw parts of the ED closed for “terminal cleaning”.  A patient that had recently traveled to West Africa came into our ED with flu-like symptoms and tested positive for influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was called as a precaution against a possible Ebola case, and the patient was cleared by the CDC.  As I heard this, I looked down at my shaking hands…I was scared.  I was very scared. At 6:43 that morning I had a quick decision to make; either to leave EMS/ED to prevent being infected by an infectious disease or to take personal responsibility for my health and to continue my commitment to helping others.  I chose to stay.
In the midst of the current Ebola scare in the United States, awareness of a possible national outbreak has everyone in high alert, but Ebola should be one of our lesser worries when there are more common diseases that have a high mortality rate.  Take influenza, for example.
A typical influenza season lasts from late September to mid-May; however, in my ED we began seeing the flu as early as August of 2013 and while it has slowed down to a crawl, we’re still seeing last year’s strain. According to the CDC during the 2013-2014 surveillance period of September 29 — May 17, 17.3% of the samples sent to the National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System and World Health Organization were positive for influenza A (87.4%) and influenza B (12.6%)*.   Last year’s flu season had a 9.9% mortality rate.
When teaching Varsity’s infection control program, I use this example: “I am sick today and I just shook your hand. Today you shook hands with 10 people. That’s 10 people you may have infected. What if those 10 shook hands with 10 others, and those shook hands with 10 others, and again, those shook hands with ten other? That makes 10,000 people that I potentially exposed to my infection.” That’s how fast an aggressive virus can be spread!
washing_handsHow do we protect ourselves and others against any communicable disease? It starts with the basics of frequently washing our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Friction alone reduces bioload on hands, so vigorous hand washing works. Other ways to stop the spread of germs:
  • Stay home if you are running a temperature over 100°, and don’t return to the general public until you have been afebrile (without fever) for at least 24 hours. To be considered afebrile, the temperature must be under 100° organically, not via the use of fever reducers such as Tylenol.
  • Stay home if you have diarrhea or are vomiting.
  • At home, stay as isolated from family members as possible and avoid hand contact.
  • Although it may appear to be rude initially, don’t shake hands with others when you are sick. I would rather be considered discourteous than to pass an infection.
  • Sneeze into your arm, not into your hand.
  • Get rid of the handkerchief. The cloth harbors germs and re-infection can occur over and over.
  • Disinfect and use microfiber towels on high hand contact surfaces such as doorknobs, telephone receivers and countertops often. Immediately wash the microfiber towels using warm or hot water.
  • Get the flu shot unless you are allergic to eggs. The vaccine has a deactivated virus, and it’s not possible to get the flu from the shot; however, it might make you feel rundown for a few days.
Should we panic over the Ebola situation? No.
Should we do a better job of protecting ourselves and those around us? Absolutely!
Why Antibiotics Won’t Work on a Virus
Antibiotics disrupt the replication of bacteria by penetrating the nucleus and preventing RNA copying. Eventually the bacteria are destroyed. Viruses, such as influenza and head colds, do not have a nucleus and have no metabolic system of their own as they rely on a host cell.

*Reference: Centers for Disease Control, October 8, 2014; Influenza Activity-United States, 2013-14 season & Composition of the 2014-15 Influenza Vaccines, Epperson, S., et al, www.cdc.gov/


Dannette Heath CEH, IP, Paramedic, EVS Business Development

Dannette Young Heeth, CEH, IP, Paramedic
Varsity Facility Services/Southwest Division
Regional Business Development

During the late 1970’s, Dannette was working in an Arlington, Texas hospital where the Environmental Services Department was outsourced to a janitorial vendor. She became interested in the training and processes required to keep the hospital properly cleaned. On her breaks, she would hang out in the EVS manager’s office to learn everything she could. Several years later, Dannette started a janitorial service, and with her medical background, began seeing ALL buildings as infectious as hospitals. Later in life she married a Flight/Critical Care Paramedic that inspired her to fulfill her dream of being a paramedic as well. She completed EMT-Basic training in 2008, joined MedicOne ambulance company (formerly MedCare), completed paramedic school and licensure in 2010, began the paramedic/RN bridge program, and eventually wound up as a trauma paramedic in a busy ER on the weekends.

In addition to her weekend work as a paramedic, she is involved in business development during the week with the best janitorial service in the world….Varsity Facility Services. Her life is full and busy!

Since starting with Varsity Facility Services in January 2013, doing Regional Business Development for Texas and Arizona, Dannette has already had great success. With her medical background, she was instrumental in obtaining the DaVita Dialysis business (63 locations in Houston); and Mountain Park Health Centers (4 locations) in Arizona.She also played a key role in bringing Varsity’s industry-leading services to Prosperity Bank (Houston); and most recently, State Farm regional offices in Phoenix. She concentrates on locating Fortune 500 companies, medical facilities, universities and national companies that have multiple locations throughout the country who need the level of service that only Varsity is able to provide. She believes in meeting prospective customers face-to-face, and spends at least 60% of her week “in the field” meeting new people and spreading the good news about Varsity to companies that have never heard of us. Her motto is, “The harder I work, the luckier I get!”

Medical Experience
In addition to working with Varsity, Dannette is currently working in the medical field as a trauma paramedic on the weekends at Dallas Regional Medical Center Emergency Department.She has also been an American Red Cross (Dallas Chapter) volunteer since 2007 and is on two of their teams: their Medical Disaster Team and their Disaster Action Team for fires/floods for which she is the Team Leader.She worked as a MedicOne Medical Response paramedic for 4 years.She has also taught infection control to nurses at the Texas Hospital Association; hasbeen a speaker at TORCH (Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals); and served on the Public Health Board, City of Grand Prairie from 2010-2012.

Facility Experience
As well as her impressive medical experience, Dannette has extensive experience in Facility Management and Janitorial.Before joining Varsity Facility Services, Dannette owned numerous janitorial companies. She has also served as Executive Vice President at AHI Facility Services; and as Director of Medical Treatment Facilities at Aztec Facility Services. She served on the BSCAI Board of Directors from 1955-1998; served on the Proctor & Gamble Advisory Board of Directors from 1995-1998; and was a speaker for Sales & Marketing at the 2002 & 2003 ISSA Conventions.

• University of Texas at Arlington
• Southern Methodist University
• National College of Technical Instruction (Paramedic)
• DCCCD nursing (Phi Theta Kappa)

Other experience and certifications:
• Texas State Paramedic, National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians – Paramedic (NREMT-P)
• Infection Preventionist (IP)
• IICRC carpet cleaning
• FEMA disaster paramedic certified
• Wildlands Firefighter
• Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
• CPR instructor
• Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
• International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services, 16 Springs Fire Department (New Mexico).
• Disaster Action Team Leader – American Red Cross
• Certified Executive Housekeeper (CEH)

Awards / Honors:
• Won Dallas 100, Inc. 1994 for being one of the fastest growing companies in Dallas.
• 1995 Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce Enterprise of the Year winner

Literary Accomplishments:
• Published over 50 articles with SERVICES magazine and CONTRACTING PROFITS
• Former Columnist for Grand Prairie Chamber of Commerce, “Who’s Who in Grand Prairie”.

Dannette’s hobbies include playing the classical piano since the age of 3, playing pipe organ, writing hymns and she is currently working on 2 books: From Acne to Estrogen, and Crazy Stories from the ER.

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